Double-pipe Bawu(双管巴乌)

Double Pipe Bawu

This double-pipe Bawu (双管巴乌) uses two Bawu(s) of different keys (F + Bb keys, perfect 4th apart) to extend the range of the instrument whereby the player can switch quickly between the two pipes (change of register). This Double-pipe Bawu is made of ebony (黑檀) instead of the usual material – violet bamboo (紫竹). I used to own several Bawu(s) made of violet bamboo, but I prefer the ebony Bawu. The ebony Bawu has a ‘warmer’ sound as compared to the violet bamboo Bawu.

History of the Bawu
The Bawu (巴乌) is a popular reed pipe instrument in the Yunnan province (云南) of southwest China. The Bawu is normally played in the transverse (horizontal) manner, and it is a diatonic instrument. The traditional Bawu is able to produce nine notes. The sound is produced by vibrating the brass reed (exhalation only), and notes are obtained by different fingerings on the tone holes.

In the recent years, the end-blown (vertical) Bawu, keyed Bawu and the double-pipe Bawu are the new instruments designed by the Bawu makers with inputs from the Bawu performers and teachers. Bawu is normally used as a solo instrument and occasionally in the Chinese orchestra. It is also used in popular and film music due to its soothing and clarinet-like timbre.

The video below features Irving Berlin – White Christmas, performed on the Double-Pipe Bawu.

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